Background and context

A culmination of The Egyptian National Council for Childhood and Motherhood’s (NCCM) many years of advocacy and campaigning came on 10 June 2008 when the Egyptian Parliament, in the face of stiff opposition, passed a new law which among its provisions criminalized the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). 
Effective national FGM legislation demonstrates and consolidates a formal, explicit and lasting commitment of state structures against the practice, thus contributing to turning the tide of social norms, as well as providing legal tools for the protection of women and girls willing to challenge the social convention.
NCCM and No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), together with the Italian NGO AIDOS and the Egyptian Association for the Prevention of Harmful Practices, previously collaborated in the organization of the 21-23 June 2003 International Conference in Cairo on “Legal Tools for the Prevention of FGM”, held under the patronage of Egypt’s First Lady, Her Excellency Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, an unprecedented and highly successful gathering of over two hundred participants from 28 African and Arab countries where FGM is practiced, among whom ministers, members of parliament, international lawyers, experts, representatives of United Nations Agencies, and representatives from myriad African organizations fighting harmful traditional practices.
By shifting the focus to legislation as an essential instrument in combating FGM and stressing the fact that FGM must be recognized and treated as a violation of human rights, the Cairo Conference represented a turning point in the campaign against the practice. “The Cairo Declaration on the Elimination of FGM” encouraged governments to pass legislation aimed at the progressive elimination of the practice - including seventeen recommendations to ensure that those laws become instruments of real prevention - and continues to be a benchmark document, elements of which have informed pivotal texts, such as national legislation as well as Article 5 (which explicitly confronts FGM) of the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, which was adopted shortly after the Cairo Conference.